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jamilla vandyke-bailey is a 29-year-old, pro-black feminist who uses her writing to provide a voice for silent traumas, and hopefully create a sense of belonging amongst the misfits. She has had work published in Tasteful Rude, Hash Journal, Santa Clara Review and elsewhere. Her collection of poetry, than we have been, was published by Weasel Press in the fall of 2021. Follow her on instagram @alli.maj


i taught myself how to find doom in the blessings—a dirty habit i borrowed for my own protection; my own solace.

i became heavy with hope & prayers & well wishes sinking me to the waist.

i couldnt dance anymore. not a sway twist or kneel. just stand there looking stupid.

heaven never helped me like you promised.

i was alive but sleepless & senseless, & needed more than words of faith & wine.

i needed to fast. to cry without tears.

to have a hand to hold soft like satin.

an anchor out of my own drowning.

i just wanted to be happy like yall but everywhere i looked was rusted gold, & empty of songs & chairs & berries, & full of whispers & pews & peach pits.

it hurts to have to return to sadness; so now i wont ever leave, but for honey.

for my own protection; my own solace.


i set my palms on your chest & feel a sigh choke under the pressure of being black & full of dead ends & sharpened lies.

i cant heal you like i want to, cant make being gone predictable. or hurt good.

all i can do is see you up with my tongue dipped in buttercream & sweet refuge.

i dont always love you like i need to. sometimes i feed you famine & old stories; & put fireflies in the bath water.

or erase myself like nighttime shadows.

but when we good, we good. & i pray loud in wild negro tongues, swelled wide open & naked & bruised raw to the heavy pink.

i pray you be safe in solid blackness; a man loose of the weight & bitterness; a man unburdened by love & hard need.


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